Edges, Exponentials & Education,
Edges, because this is where the interesting changes first begin to appear. It's also the place where folk toss around the notion of creativity. It's also the case that an edge for me may not be an edge for you1. But I am interested in the edgy stuff that some schools and school-like places do their thing. This is not to suggest that any of these edgy things will somehow be the little step that causes the giant monolith known as schooling to change direction or purpose. These sites are interesting and important because despite the dead hand of schooling, these places actually educate kids. An outrageous idea I know. A key project which is at the edges and takes place in schools and with which I have been associated for a long time, is called knowledge-producing schools.
Exponentials, because this is the rate at which pretty much the current game changing technologies are improving in price/performance. There is a broader logic here though, one which points to the kind of thing Kevin Kelly writes about in his notion of the Technium. Kelly calls them the GRIN technologies for geno, robo, info and nano. An important property of the GRINs which is a component of their rate of growth is self-replication (pp. 260 & ff.). An excellent overview of exponential change at a TEDx by Eric Ezechieli
Education, not schooling, because given the rate of change of the GRINs who, how, what and why we educate become critical questions. For the moment we are stuck on how, as if we know all the answers about a world that has yet to be shaped. This strikes me as patently stupid.
Schooling, sadly, appears less and less well equipped to engage with any of this. The history of their successful muting/domestication of various computing related technologies is a poor basis for thinking about the challenges that the young will face this century.
Higher Education, or at least the edgy bits of it has a growing set of new models which, I think, are worth looking at if only to get some broad sense of how these practices are developing.
I did a gig with Julia Walsh for a conference about challenges to universities in Ireland in May 2011.